First responders in Chatham-Kent will have an added support resource thanks to an agreement signed with the charitable organization Wounded Warriors Canada (WWC).
At a recent Chatham-Kent Police Services Board meeting, Chief Gary Conn signed on to get extra mental health support for police officers, fire personnel and ambulance staff suffering from operation stress injuries such as PTSD (post-traumatic stress disorder).
WWC is a national mental health charity started initially for soldiers stationed in Afghanistan in 2001, according to executive director Scott Maxwell. The intent was to support soldiers with care packages from home, and once the mission wound up, the focus of the WWC adapted to include soldiers coming home suffering from PTSD and other injuries. Maxwell said they adapted again to include first responders across Canada who also suffer from job stress.
Conn said he is pleased to enter into a partnership with WWC and be able to offer additional support programs to the ones already available for his officers.
“It’s a real privilege and an honour to sign this professional partnership with Wounded Warriors Canada,” Conn said. “When it comes to the wellness of our members, that’s top priority. In Chatham-Kent in policing alone, we have five members off on PTSD as we currently speak. The wellness of our officers is paramount.”
WWC offers a wide range of programs for Canadian Armed Forces members, veterans, first responders and their families, including COPE, Trauma Resiliency, Service Dog Pairing, Equine Therapy and BOS (Before Operational Stress).
“We have numerous services in place for all of staff, and now in addition to that we have the programs of WWC to offer,” Conn noted. “None of those on their own is a silver magic bullet but collectively, it provides the appropriate service that our members require for their overall wellness.”
In particular, Conn is very interested in the BOS program, which is preventative and proactive training that members can receive to help them when dealing with operational stress situations. The programs are available to all members at any time they should need it.